Memecylon pauciflorum

poor-flower tree


Memecylon pauciflorum

Blume 1851

pronounced: mem-ee-KY-lon pow-kee-FLOR-um

(Melastomataceae — the melastome family family)


common name: poor-flower tree

native 4Memecylon is from the Greek μεμαικυλον (memaikylon), a corruption of μιμαικυλον (mimaikylon), the fruit of the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo. The term was used by Pedianius Dioscorides (c. 40–90 AD) in his 5-volume encyclopaedia about herbal medicines, Περι'υλης 'ιατρικης, written in Greek, but soon translated into both Latin and Arabic, and more frequently referred to by its Latin name, De Materia Medica . It was the precursor to all modern pharmacopoeias, and was the stand-by reference book for the medical profession until about 1600 AD. It covered about 500 plants along with a number of therapeutically useful animal and mineral products. Pauciflorum is from the Latin words paucus, few, little, and flos, a flower.

The plant is found in forests and on mountain slopes in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and in northern Australia. The one photographed was in Horseshoe Bay, on the edge of the wetlands.

It is a shrub or small tree, more-or-less 1.5 m high. It has an erect central stem from which many short side branches are produced, growing out almost horizontally. The plant is at first glance quite similar to Eugenia reinwardtiana, the beach cherry, but it lacks oil glands in the leaves, and the lateral veins are obscure. The leaves are usually less than 7 cm long.

The flowers are arranged in umbels. They are inconspicuous, though very pretty when looked at closely, white to blue in colour, with 4 petals and 8 stamens.

The ripe fruits are fleshy, purple-black, up to about 8 mm long. They produce a purple stain.

The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of wood. The wood is heavy, strong, durable, dense and flexible, and it sinks in water. When it is found growing large enough, it is used for such purposes as house posts and furniture.


Regarding Medical Materials

Photographed at Horseshoe Bay 2009-2017
Page last updated 19th January 2020